Friday, 13 July 2012

Where the leaders of “SFI-JNU” Erred - Part Two

Pamphlet dated 13 July 2012

Failure to engage in consultations

We would like to explain a point that we made in our earlier pamphlet further. Why didn’t the leaders of the erstwhile JNU unit of SFI engage in wider consultations before evolving the line to be discussed at the GBM? Did the erstwhile leadership explore all available avenues before pushing their line? Four members of the Delhi State Committee were part of the unit here, including two State Vice-Presidents and the State President himself who could have convened a State Committee meeting. They could have easily forced the Delhi State Committee to take a stand on the issue and to send it to the Central Executive Committee, of which the State President was a permanent invitee. Not only was this option NOT exercised, but the Delhi State Committee was not even convened for a full one and a half years. Lamenting the higher leadership’s intervention after all these happened cannot be taken seriously.

From Tailism to Opportunist Consensus

While the AISA welcomed Prasenjit Bose’s resignation and concentrated on attacking the organised Left (as they have been doing for a long time), the erstwhile leadership sought to insulate the JNU unit of SFI from the larger movement precisely over the same reasons. They failed to realise that the choice before the Left in the Presidential elections was between NDA-backed Kalam and a Congress-backed candidate. The formulation “support to the secular candidate with the widest possible acceptance” was crucial in forcing the withdrawal of the former from the Presidential elections.

Moreover, several SFI members pointed out at the GBM that regardless of one’s opinion on the Presidential polls, this issue was not one that merited the disruption of the unity of the organisation itself. As has been noted by several sympathisers, unless the erstwhile leaders believed that this is an issue that could arouse the masses into action and contribute to a revival of class politics in the country, the haste in which the course of action they adopted raises serious questions. If the unit decides to withdraw from the larger left movement on such a pretext, it can only be called “left-wing childishness”if not an attempt to bolster the viewpoints of an individual who has resigned.

Lack of class bias

The lack of class bias evident in the pamphlets issued by “SFI-JNU” was best exemplified in their approach to the legacy of the working class movement in Idukki in Kerala, where M M Mani was the district secretary of the CPI(M). M M Mani’s statement was reprehensible and needs to be condemned. Having denounced his statement and called for action against him, the leadership should also have made an attempt to talk about the working class movement in Idukki without in any manner justifying Mani’s statement. The movement of the working class in the district was built up in the face of ruthless repression from the ruling classes and the state machinery. Thousands of workers who were employed in big cardamom estates like Kaanthippaara, Venkalappaara, Aanachaal and a number of others in Idukki were subject to inhuman exploitation. The efforts to organise these workers during the 1970s and 80s were met with such brutal violence that trade union leaders had to go underground. That was taken as an opportunity by the goons of the big estate owners and the goons of the Congress to unleash violence on activists who remained behind, to molest women and so on in an attempt to get them to leave CITU and to force them to join the pliant INTUC. All these were done with the full backing of the repressive police machinery – K Karunakaran of the Congress was the Chief Minister then.

One particularly gruesome incident was when the notorious Congress goon Mullanchira Mathai dragged out a woman member of the CITU from her home when she refused to leave CITU. She was eight months pregnant. Mathai sat on her stomach and said, “Wow, it’s nice sitting on your stomach, woman. It’s softer than a mattress.” There was also another incident when Mathai and other goons attacked Thilothama Soman (currently member of the Saanthanpaara Area Committee of the CPI(M)) at her home and threw her six-month old child on the road. The popular resistance to ruling class oppression in Idukki involved fighting goons like Mathai. This resistance was broad-based and not confined to just one political party.  It was this popular resistance that finally facilitated open trade union activity and enabled the working class movement to stand on its own.

Instead of making even a feeble attempt to talk about the fighting legacy of the working class movement in Idukki, the “SFI-JNU” leaders chose to abdicate the responsibility of politicising the students (the vast majority of which are obviously not aware of the history of the labour movement in Idukki). The stance they adopted instead of taking on this responsibility was nothing but a position of convenience. It is apt remembering Mao’s words in this context: A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous.”

We understand that the present political confinement of the erstwhile leaders of SFI’s JNU unit has forced them to resort to desperate remarks like “We will not let the new SFI ad-hoc committee to function in the campus”. We urge the unit organising committee of the SFI in JNU to forge a larger political unity within the organisation in order to strengthen the left and democratic students’ movement.


T. Lakshmi Narayana, Manu M R, Rajeev Kumar, Siddik Rabiyath, Subin Dennis.

Down with Liquidationism!!
Long Live the Students Federation of India!!!

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